There are a lot of products out there that are made from recycled materials, but what happens when those items come to the end of their usefulness? The unfortunate truth is that unless products are designed to be recycled, it will be a challenge to keep them out of the landfill.
Gary Gagnon has created ReKixx with a very long-term vision for his shoes. Not only has he made a shoe that can be recycled, he's put a lot of thought into creating an infrastructure that will get the shoes recycled.
According to the non-profit Souls 4 Soles, over 700,000 pairs of shoes are thrown out in the U.S. each year. Making shoes easier to recycle could be one way to reduce this number.
ReKixx shoes don't currently contain recycled material, because Gagnon wanted to ensure that the materials can be recycled over and over. "I've taken a lot into consideration when using virgin materials vs. recycled," he said. There are just three materials used in ReKixx, compared with about 40 materials used in the typical pair of sneakers. He worked with a chemist to create resins that can be easily recycled, and designed the shoes to be easily disassembled. It's a good example of Cradle to Cradle design principals at work.
The shoes themselves are made in China, but recycled in the U.S. For now, ReKixx can be recycled by sending them back to Gagnon. "If I receive them back, they go to an educated recycler," said Gagnon, adding that they can be made into similar products. "I can guarantee that they don't go into a landfill."
If the company can grow and thrive long enough for the shoes to start to get worn out, Gagnon wants to one day make new ReKixx from old ones. "If I can get bigger, I can rely on getting back my materials," Gagnon said, with the goal of creating a closed-loop manufacturing system.
In the future, Gagnon hopes to partner with retailers, who could have collection bins in their stores. The Kickstarter campaign is raising funds to get ReKixx produced in enough volume to be sold through retailers. He said the shoes could in theory be recycled curb-side, if municipal processors were informed about how to disassemble the parts.
"ReKixx is not only about fashion, but about awareness and education," said Gagnon. The resin code for each plastic (that's the number inside the triangular recycle symbol) is incorporated into the design of many of the sneakers, serving as part of the brand's mission of awareness and a constant reminder that the shoe itself is recyclable. "I followed the legal requirements to put that recycle symbol on my sneakers," said Gagnon.
Pledges of $45.00 or more gets you a pair if the campaign is successful.